It is vanishingly rare in public life for a male and female figure to behave similarly and the man receives more criticism than the woman. The opposite is almost universally true.

But in terms of the current bare majority in the Senate, Joe Manchin has been everyone's favorite whipping boy (deservedly so! he's terrible!) even though Krysten Sinema is arguably worse and at the very least as culpable as Manchin for preventing desperately needed structural reforms.

The recent in-depth interview with Sinema in which she reveals (tellingly) that her office in Tucson is unoccupied sheds a lot of light on one of the most confounding aspects of the obstructionist legacy she and Manchin are building. Any read, even a favorable one, of this interview makes it perfectly clear that this person could not give a shit about anyone or anything but her own career. Being a Senator is meaningless except inasmuch as it might give her a the right springboard into whatever lobbying job she's dying to get. This is a line on a resume. There's no signature policy she wants to enact, no legacy she wants to leave behind – this is the Millennial politics of the near future. Sincerity doesn't even need to be faked and the question "What's in this for me?
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" does not refer to one's odds of reelection.

This is the fundamental issue with Manchin, and apparently with Sinema as well: it is impossible to figure out what it is they want. If they wanted something then some kind of political deal would be possible.
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Recall some of their predecessors: Robert Byrd using his Senate seat as a cudgel for beating West Virginia pork out of his colleagues, or Carl Hayden openly boasting about trading his vote on Civil Rights legislation for Federally-funded Arizona water projects. With this current pair, it's unclear that handing them a blank check would accomplish anything. What do they want? What's their strategy? What are they hoping to gain from being the reluctant members of a bare-majority coalition?

The answer is nothing, and that is a big reason that they are so nearly impossible to deal with. They don't want anything except to play this character that they believe will pay off for them, personally, down the road. When Manchin is Governor or a mouthpiece of the coal industry and Sinema has taken her exhausting narcissism to the Chamber of Commerce or whatever, they'll look back on what they did as a success. The politics of Congress is predicated on the assumption that each individual member wants something that either benefits their constituents directly or increases the member's odds of reelection. In Manchin's case the latter is argued, although not entirely convincingly (would West Virginians really be furious if the minimum wage went up? Seems unlikely!) whereas Sinema doesn't even seem to care about getting re-elected.

If they don't want anything, how can you negotiate with them?

Imagine a soccer team where two members aren't interested in scoring goals or winning the game; they're just hoping to get noticed to get lucrative jobs in something ancillary – broadcasting, modeling, coaching, acting, whatever. Not gonna win many games that way, are you?

If you can't move them with "Hey, we can't win unless you do something" because winning isn't of interest to them, finding an alternative basis for negotiations is going to take some imagination.

20 thoughts on “NOTHING TO NEGOTIATE”

  • Lobsterman says:

    This has been an ongoing issue – what do you do with Barney Frank, who'd rather retain his relationships with his banker buddies than get reelected, or Joe Lieberman, or etc etc?

    The difference with Manchin and Sinema is that we're finally allowed to notice it.

  • Perfectly stated. If I were the Majority Leaader, I would tell them to make plans to leave. If you aren't going to help the team, I'd rather you be defeated by a Republican. Then I can help recruit a progressive Democrat to win back those seats. But Schumer has no spine and is not a progressive. Ever notice how Republican leaders act like managers and Democratic leaders act more like substitute teachers?

  • Net Denizen says:

    The old Phil Hartman-as-Reagan line from SNL comes to mind. He is doing a meet-and-greet in between sessions to strategize how to manipulate the situation in the Middle East to his political favor (and other such stuff he claimed he was "hands off" for). Dana Carvey as Jimmy Stewart comes in to shoot the shit with his old friend "Dutch", and Hartman says "Jimmy, get out of here or else I'll have to kill you."

    So, TL;DR — perhaps they'd respond to mafia-style personal threats. Otherwise, yeah, not sure what else would appeal to them.

  • hey poli-sci opinion havers, is this repub. worship of trump the energize the base thing that McCain tried with Palin? I mean it did not go well ,right?

  • I was hoping for some new insight, but it seems what you actually are saying is that you don't know why they are doing what they are doing, and they aren't saying, so it must be for something unhelpful to others, and disreputable. It's easy to think this for Sinema, this is her first term and she's not likely to be reelected in 2024, but Joe Manchin has been doing this for ten years now, and has been elected twice. He has reasons, and according to polls he's still popular in West Virginia. Since 2016 Democrats have steadfastly refused to look for what's really going on. For example, they always talk as if the Trump base is low education, low pay working class people, but in fact they're upper middle class. One third of Trump voters in 2016 made more than $100,000, another one third made more than $50,000. Democrats and the corporate media continue to ignore this for reasons I have not penetrated.

  • Republicans bucking the party monolith are Courageous Mavericks of Principle. Democrats bucking the party monolith, on the other hand, are Empty, Obstructionist Self-Promoters. Youbetcha. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Little is more pathetic ethically and intellectually than citing supposed “universal” procedural standards as a fig leaf for bald substantive partisan preference.

  • It's not the word that would have immediately come to mind, but I think the piece makes a strong case for considering both of those hollow beings as nihilists.

  • Manchin's a DINO, Sinema is an idiot.

    Maybe she, the Boeberthead doll and Mad Marj oughta get together to form the Tendentious Trinity of Batshittery.

  • Hey, Ink –

    Bucking your party's openly authoritarian hero-worship of a failed sociopath's reelection is indeed courageous, though it can be argued (convincingly) that it's the bare minimum of courage. On the other hand, bucking your party's legislative agenda in the name of "the rules" or whatever doesn't really strike me as being a maverick or a loner or whatever. Just seems – I don't know – obstructionist. And maybe a bit empty.

    But you know that, didn't you, you grand kumquat.

  • Define—

    “I vote Democrat!” would have sufficed. No complaints, I vote Republican. Maybe you and Big Ed and some of the others here could just own self-referential partisan reality—gosh, you’re correct in absolute terms, aren’t you?—instead of this false-faced preening behind the skirts of “objective”, noble, nonpartisan procedural principle.

  • Blackmail?

    Manchin has a daughter who's done some weird crap to jack up the price of Epi-pen. Don't know anything about Sinema, but somebody that soulless seems likely to have something blackmail-ready going on.

    Of course it's totally illegal, unethical, and immoral. But it sure looks like the whole US experiment in democracy hinges on making those two irrelevant. Possibly a stark lesser of two evils situation?

  • It's always amusing when some fucking p.o.s. troll comes here and complains about the LEFT and their agenda, while pretending obliviousness about the depradations in the name of MurKKKan Patriojism.

    I'm sorry; I shouldn't said.

    That lying fuckbag sackofeces isn't pretending to be oblivious.

  • In order to maintain any semblance of a governing coalition, Schumer has to coddle these two for two years. I doubt if he enjoys it one damn bit. Hopefully, 2022 can bring in more Dem Senators (crosses fingers) and these two can simply be ignored.

    Politics is not easy.

  • I feel like it might be easier to peel off a Republican vote or two, if Schumer was willing to negotiate, which to my understanding he isn't. I mean Trump was mad at McConnell too, I think that literally everyone doesn't like that guy, eclipsed by Ted Cruz but still.

  • @Procopius R voters are R voters and they vote for R pols, period. Looking at the general election profile of R voters tells you exactly nothing about the internal dynamics of the party, e.g. who really loves Trump and who votes for him because (R) follows his name. To make sense of this you have to look at GOP primaries.

    @Lobsterman exactly so.

    Obviously they want something, and Manchin has been at this long enough to have a pretty well developed agenda, even if it's just balancing the demands of party, voters, and donors. Since the party leadership has adopted a "no incumbent left behind" policy it's easy to blow off their demands and worry about the other two. Sinema is a little harder to fathom, but the odds she's in it for a K Street gig are about zip-point-shit. Those go to people with connections inside the congress, of which she has established approximately (-257). Coffee is for for closers.

    Whatever their price it should be identifiable by someone is power but the liberal class has devolved into a culture of performative scolding and seems incapable of affecting material changes.

  • @Mojrim:

    I appreciate your take on this but the dems are a very loose coalition that fractures along various lines of desire, need and pure pigheadedness.

    The GOP, otoh, has demonstrated since 1968 that the ONLY thing that they agree on is fucking the public while blaming the dems. It's been a successful strategy and may remain so.

    The fly in the ointment is the fealty to Trumpligulamygdala exbibited in a pro-active way by McCarthy and the Batshit4Donnie wing of the GOP v Moscow Mitch Manurefunnel's cohort.

    I'll be 75 in 2024 and, frankly, if I feel the way I feel now, physically, in 1975, I might not be too interested in watching the run up to a genuinely fascistic gummint that will re-establish actual slavery as an economic tool model for the oligarchs to use.

    Nothing is too far fetched for the GOP. If it wasn't obvious after Nixon, Reagan and the Bush pere and fils, that there is NO line that they will not cross in their lust for power, it's become impossible to ignore since 2015.

  • Yes to all of it except what on earth is Millennial about Kyrsten Sinema? She was born in 1976, for crying out loud!

  • What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    I really don't understand what either of them are angling for either. With Manchin…maybe he feels like the protections afforded by HR1 are not important in WV so he's basically going to sacrifice that bill and then when "bipartisanship" fails to materialize on it, reluctantly vote for the infrastructure bill without any Rs because he sees that as better for his re-election chances (it would be popular with WVians) and the Rs will have demonstrated that they aren't going to cooperate on anything. Basically he's being mavericky on HR1 so he can toe the party line on the bill that actually matters more to his political future.

    Nobody seems to be able to figure Sinema out and maybe she's just so flaky that there really isn't anything to figure out. I don't know.

  • Manchin and Sinema are playing the same fucking game that Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Lynn Cheney and the late notsofuckinggreat John McCain played for his entire career.

    Take stands on shit that doesn't matter and then fold and go party line when it does.

    Given that the Traitors Caucus are horrible excuses for human beings, the aforenamed are the "B-Team".

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